Alison Tetrick's Dirty Kanza Training Plan: Week 1

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Alison Tetrick is a natural time trialist, an athlete who loves to ride at her lactate threshold. 

Below, you'll find her actual training plan from the run-up to the 2018 Dirty Kanza 200. A Carmichael Training Systems athlete, Tetrick has worked with coach Dean Golich since 2012. Tetrick put together this training program, and the "pro tips" included in our videos with the help of CTS.

The first three weeks of Alison Tetrick's nine-week training program before racing in the Dirty Kanza 200 are all about increasing her lactate threshold (LT), or the hinge point where the long process of breaking down fats and proteins can no longer keep up with her body's increasing energy demands.

This marks the point at which you switch from aerobic metabolism to anaerobic metabolism. A well-trained athlete can exercise below LT for huge amounts of time as long as a steady stream of nutrients is being consumed to replace the nutrients being broken down for fuel. However, exercise above LT is by definition not sustainable, because our bodies can not keep up with the increased need for ATP. 

So how do we train ourselves to be able to ride harder and faster for longer amounts of time? 

Simple: We increase our lactate threshold. This is a primary goal of training as an endurance athlete. When you're eyeing a 200-mile gravel race like Kanza, riding hard for a very long time is the name of the game.

You have to train your aerobic metabolism. In other words, you have to ride just below your LT. If you get overzealous and try to ride above your LT, you are training an entirely different metabolic system and you will not see the desired physiological effects. (Note: If you are the type of rider who just likes to go out and hammer with friends, this block of training may require some self-control.)

Because Tetrick is naturally inclined to geek out on numbers, and can become consumed with data, Golich purposely designs her training to rely more on feel. He incorporates elements of fun and adventure, and unstructured training such as regular group rides. 

However, we realize not everyone is Alison Tetrick. So we also provided structured workouts that mimic Alison's plan, for those with limited schedules or desire for a more scripted training plan. Scale these workouts and rides as needed depending on your ability level, and the amount of time you have to train. You can find additional weeks of training at the following links:

WEEK 2WEEK 3 — WEEK 4 — WEEK 5 — WEEK 6 — WEEK 7 — WEEK 8 — WEEK 9

Week 1

Monday

Rest day

Tuesday

Hard climbing day: 2.5-3 hours, 3x20-minute climbing efforts at threshold

Wednesday

2-3 hour group ride

Thursday

Wind Tunnel testing and final bike fitting at Specialized (Recovery day)

Friday

2-3 hour group endurance ride

Saturday

5-hour endurance ride with 3 hard hours

Sunday

5-hour gravel race

MONDAY:

Rest Day

Alison typically starts the week with a rest day, allowing her to recover from a long weekend of riding or racing. Monday is a common rest day for weekend warriors and professionals alike.

Description:
Rest days are every bit as integral to a training plan as any other day. Use today to rest and relax, destress, catch up on life's other obligations, and mentally prepare yourself to launch into the next block of training.


TUESDAY:

2.5-3 hours hard climbing day with 3x20-min. "sweet spot" or sub-threshold climbing efforts

Every professional has a few staple workouts. These are tried and true workouts that have been utilized and fined tuned to great effect throughout their career. One of Alison's go-to workouts is a 3x20-minute interval set. These 20-minute intervals are ridden just below LT. These are often referred to as "sweet spot" intervals because the power range between tempo and threshold is the most effective training zone for increasing one's LT.

You can also try completing 2 to 4, 15-minute sweet spot efforts. Remember, Alison has built up to the 3x20 over the years.

Description:
30-minute warmup gradually building to endurance pace.

MS:
4x15 mins @ 88-96% LT, 85-105 rpm w/ 10 mins TBI @ recovery pace (*TBI = time between intervals)

20-minute easy cooldown

Tip:
Efforts are best done up a climb of 3-8%. Maintain a relaxed and stable upper body. These efforts should feel hard but sustainable.

Details:

  1. Warm up
    30 min @ 40-60% LT
    Zone 1
  2. Repeat 4 times
    1. Sweet Spot
      15 min @ 88-96% LT
      Zone 3-4
    2. Recovery
      10 min @ <55% LT
      Zone 1-2
  3. Cool Down
    20 min @ <55% LT
    Zone 1

WEDNESDAY

2-3-hour group ride

Not every day of a training program can be a hammer fest. Today is about enjoying the ride and the company you are with during it. Training your steady endurance system is important. Remember, this is a ride, not a race. Stay within your zones, and don't get roped into hammering up hills by your friends.

Description:
Enjoy an unstructured day of riding, mostly in Z1-Z2 (50-75% LT) and remain seated up climbs. Out-of-the-saddle climbing is less effective on gravel, so make sure you are building the necessary in-the-saddle strength!

Tip:
Try playing with your cadence throughout the ride. Slowing your leg speed down to ~70 rpm up climbs can be an effective way to build a strong and smooth pedal stroke. Follow any low cadence drills with a few minutes of spinning at 98-115 rpm.

Details:

  1. Warm up
    20 min @ 40-60% LT
    Zone 1
  2. Endurance
    2 hr @ 50-75% LT
    Zone 2
  3. Cool Down
    10 min @ <55% LT
    Zone 1

THURSDAY:

1-hour easy ride/position check

Today Alison is scheduled to visit the Win Tunnel at Specialized HQ. Here she will undergo aerodynamic testing to determine her ideal position for Dirty Kanza. With a projected finish time greater than 11 hours, aerodynamics can play a major role in a successful ride. Because we do not all have access to wind tunnel testing, here is a workout you can do instead.

Description:
Use today as an easy recovery spin while ensuring sure you are happy with your position on the bicycle. Remember, what feels comfortable at hour three may not feel comfortable at hour nine of Dirty Kanza.

Tip:
Many racers use aero bar extensions for gravel races. They can provide a major aerodynamic advantage as well as a comfortable position if set up properly. If you have any doubts about your position, now is the time to schedule an appointment with a bike fit professional!


FRIDAY:

2-3 hour group endurance ride

Alison has another endurance paced group ride on tap today. Intervals are one of the most effective training tools in a cyclist's arsenal, but sometimes there is no substitute for good old-fashioned time in the saddle.

Description:
Enjoy an unstructured day of riding with friends today. Ride mostly in Z1-Z2 (50-75% LT) and remain seated up climbs. Out-of-the-saddle climbing is less effective on gravel, so make sure you are building the necessary in-the-saddle strength!

Tip:
Try playing with your cadence throughout the ride. Slowing your leg speed down to ~70 rpm up climbs can be an effective way to build a strong and smooth pedal stroke. Follow any low cadence drills with a few minutes of spinning at 98-115 rpm.

Details:

  1. Warm up
    20 min @ 40-60% LT
    Zone 1
  2. Endurance
    2:30:00 @ 50-75% LT
    Zone 2
  3. Cool Down
    10 min @ <55% LT
    Zone 1

SATURDAY:

5-hour endurance ride with 3 hard hours

Alison takes advantage of the weekend by logging long hours in the saddle. Today she has a five-hour endurance ride on tap. Three hours are meant to be at a hard endurance pace. This means three concerted hours of riding well above conversational pace. Keep stopping and soft-pedaling to a minimum and try to remain within Z2 and Z3 throughout this portion of the ride. The three hard hours are best done in the middle or toward the end of the ride, so pace yourself accordingly. You do not want to be completely cooked with over an hour still to go. That is bad for both morale and training!

Description:
Log some long steady endurance miles today. Ride a rolling course, but keep your power output consistent on the uphill/downhill sections. Do not give into the urge to surge up hills and cost once you get to the top. While these tiny efforts may not seem consequential right now, it is important to train your body to climb efficiently at relatively low power. Using little Z4+ bursts of power to get over hills will add up and prove to be very costly throughout the 200 miles of Dirty Kanza. Remember, long and steady is the name of the game.

Tip:
Incorporate three hours of endurance+ riding today. Remain in upper Z2 and allow yourself to push into Z3 up hills. This is hard but still sustainable riding.

Details:

  1. Warm up
    20 min @ 40-60% LT
    Zone 1-2
  2. Active
    4 hr @ 50-85% LT
    Zone 1-3
  3. Cool Down
    10 min @ <55% LT
    Zone 1

SUNDAY:

5-hour gravel race OR 4.5-hour steady state ride

Today Alison has a gravel race planned. There's an old saying that racing is the best training. While that may not be 100 percent accurate, there is definitely some truth there. Racing can push us harder than we would normally go in training, and it provides a slew of other benefits. Fine tuning race nutrition, practicing tactics, and improving bike handling at race pace are all great benefits of incorporating racing into a training plan. If you do not have a race at your disposal this weekend, here is an alternative workout.

Description:
After a 20-30 minute warmup, settle into an elevated endurance pace for the majority of the ride. Try to ride mostly between 60-78% LT. This should be a steady, concerted endurance pace, hovering just below the point where your breathing becomes labored.

Tip:
Try to complete this ride primarily on gravel roads. Get a feel for how the bicycle handles on climbs and descents. Get comfortable riding through loose sections of gravel and sand. Training is about constantly trying to expand our comfort zone. Bike handling is one of the many facets of racing that requires training.

Details:

  1. Warm up
    20 min @ 40-60% LT
    Zone 1
  2. Active
    4 hr @ 60-78% LT
    Zone 2-3
  3. Cool Down
    10 min @ <55% LT
    Zone 1

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